Thursday, November 6, 2008



World Saiva Council stands for progress and welfare
Kalabhooshanam Chelvatamby Maniccavasagar

The World Saiva Council (Sri Lanka branch) held a seminar at Wellawatte Ramakrishna Mission hall, Colombo - 6 recently.

Pon Vallipuram, Trustee of Mayurapathy Bathrakali Amman Devasthanam hoisting the Nanthy flag. President of the World Saiva Council (Sri Lanka branch) K. Thayapasan, Dr. M. Kathirgamanathan, Secretary of the WSC (Sri Lanka Branch) and “Vidaikody Chelvas” Sinnadurai Dhanabalan look on.

It was presided over by K. Thayaparan, President of the World Saiva Council (Sri Lanka Branch) on this occasion Dr. K. Somasundaram, Consultant of the National Institute of Education, Nithyawathy Nithyanandan, Research Officer of the Department of Hindu Religious and Cultural Affairs, Pon Vallipuram, Trustee of the Mayurapathy Bathrakali Amman Thevasthanam, A.R. Surenthiran, President's Counsel and President of the Vivekananda Society, Dr. K. Nageswaran, Senior Lecturer of the University of Sabaragamuwa, M. Shanmuganathan, Assistant Director of the Department of Hindu Religions and Cultural Affairs, "Vidaikody Chelvas" Sinnadurai Dhanabalaa, K. Mahananthan, former Secretary of the Ministry of Hindu Religious and Cultural Affairs addressed the gathering pertaining to several subjects with the view to promote Saivism and Saivasiddhanta philosophy for the progress and welfare of the Saiva community not only in Sri Lanka but throughout the world.

Dr. M. Kathirgamanathan, an indefatigable Secretary or the World Saiva Council (Sri Lanka Branch) made elaborate arrangement for the success of this seminar.

Being born in this world of material pursuits, the Divine purpose of life is often forgotten and needs to be constantly reminded of the original purpose and path. Inforactical terms when we do not lead a life of spiritual pursuit, then we are merely prolonging the sufferings by choosing to remain in a life of ignorance.

Therefore, in addition to fulfilling our responsibilities, one should also be constantly involved in the quest for God's grace by performing our duty righteously, reading spiritual literature, spiritual discussions, doing service and most importantly reflecting upon life's experience and constantly seeking His grace for illumination.

K. Thayaparan, President of the World Saiva Council (Sri Lanka Branch) addressing.

Dhanabalaa, Vice-President of the World Saiva Council (Sri Lanka Branch) who addressed the gathering on "hoisting of Nanthy flag on Maha Sivarathri Day said that Nanthy flag symbolises Lord Shiva or Dharma. He further said that Saivites from time immemorial were told to govern their lives by the Norms of Dharma which comprehends all the excellences which make for an ideal humanity. In fact, the hoisting of Nanthy flags in temples, religious organisations, schools and working places will definitely make everyone to receive the Divine blessings of Lord Shiva. As such, the hoisting of the Nanthy flags particularly on Maha Sivarathri Day will undoubtedly bring all the religions of the universe under on umbrella for peace and prosperity.

Pon Vallipuram, Trustee of Mayurapathy Bathrakali Amman Devasthanam emphasised that Social service is of paramount importance on the part of the temple authorities. It is through social service only we will be able to receive the Divine blessings of Almighty God. That was the only reason the great "Swami Vivekananda" said that before flooding India with political ideas, it is better to deluge the land with social, cultural, artistic and spiritual ideas. Vallipuram further said, that Hindu Araneri Schools are rendering yeoman service to the children by way of teaching religious ideas and Dharma which are very essential for the moral, spiritual and physical development of the child.

Mrs. Nithyawathy Nithiyanandam, Research Officer of the Department of Hindu Religious and Cultural Affairs explained very clearly the development and promotion of Saiva Religion in Sri Lanka (Ceylon) and the great scholars who sacrificed their life for the spread of Saivism in Sri Lanka. She explained even great Sinhala kings were very much involved in the promotion and propagating of Saivism in Sri Lanka and they gave due place for all the religions of the country. These kings were highly respected and held in high esteem by the people since they believed in Dharmic way of life.

A.R. Surenthiran, President's Counsel and President of Vivekananda Society explained in detail the laws and regulations pertaining to the Temple administration. Indeed, he enlightened the audience on the laws governing the administration of the Temples which was greatly appreciated by everyone. Dr. K. Nageswaran, spoke "whether Archanai could be done in Tamil?" He said that it could be done in any language as long as it is done with devotion. He quoted various examples to clear the doubts of the devotees.

The seminar was of great success since the World Saiva Council stands for the truch that pati, pasu, pasam are eternal and uncreated. It also emphasised that all over the world that saivites should come together to bring about the renaissance in Saivism, so that it is suitable to the modern world.


U n d e r s t a n d i n g H i n d u i s m - 9

Is Life an Illusion, Dream?
K.S. Sivakumaran

Iam trying my best to the best of my understanding to explain the non-Hindus certain essentials of the great religion Hinduism.

Hinduism, as we know could be broadly divided into two categories.: Vedantam and Siddantham, as they call in Thamil. Most South Indians and Lankans and others in other countries belonging to the Thamil community are Saiva Siddanthis.

The major six sects as pronounced in Hinduism are: Saivam ( those who worship Siva), Vaishnavam (Vishnu), Saaktham ( Shakthi), Ganapathiyam (Ganesh or Pillayaar), Kaumaaram ( Kumaran or Murugan or Kanthasamy or Subramanian), Chauram (Choorian). There other minor deities in Hinduism like Lakshmi, Saraswathi and others.

Most of us belong to either one religion or the other. We try to be religious people, but only a few are truly religious. We cannot expect a person who is worldly in living to be genuinely religious. I for I could not afford to be wholly religious.It would be suicidal. I have no alternative but to ignore the society and lead a life without conflict within me and without it.

But all religions preach morality and ethics. They say renunciation in and out is absolutely necessary. Is it possible for all? But sages have succeeded in this sphere.

First of all internal renunciation is essential. If that happens it would be automatically reflected externally. External renunciation without internal renunciation would breed hypocrisy. It will not serve any purpose. However, the more we renounce, the less bondage we have. All bondage hangs on Ego. If we drop the ego, every conflict ceases.

We then lead a natural and contended life facing and solving problems as they appear. To the person who has renounced there is hardly any problem to solve. Problems crop up only when there is dual feeling depending on a past and future. When that feeling is completely absent incidents become incidents only.

To the truly religious person there is no past or future. It is the present that matters. Such a person will only be a witness unaffected by any kind of event. Enjoying a sunset or even starving for a day will not have lasting impression on his mind.

Let's digress for a moment.

We are responsible for the evils in the society. We suffer on account of them. All imaginable evils are embedded in the very society we create. In another level, from birth to death life is an eternal conflict for all of us. Conflict in mind and conflict in the material world. We deceive ourselves and the world at large.

It is a life of hypocrisy. If we are not prepared to reform ourselves, it is impossible to reform the evil society. This society is making impossible demands on us. The more particular a so-called civilised society is the more evil are the people living in it. Even when people know this, they do not have the moral courage to denounce or condemn it. What does the practical person does? He condones everything that is evil.

The practical person and the religious person remain unaffected by all that we call good or evil. He finds no meaning in heaven, hell, karma, rebirth and all that we are frightened of. Such persons think that what happens around them are really wishful projections of their own minds. A religious person continues existence as an individual without any reality for him.

According to the Hindu, this is Maya (Illusion). But what is Maya? It is primarily ignorance, a mist, a darkness, an illusion - one thing appearing as another.

Once the source of every phenomenon is 'realised' he feels that there is no purpose of studying the phenomenon in all details.

The Hindus claim that they have traced the appearance of everything to one source. They call that Bramam. They have labeled the mind also as a Matter. The only difference it has with other materials is that the mind is finer.

Persons can identify themselves with their bodies, minds, souls and yet transcend all the three stages of life when they could be practically 'quality-less'

It is the identification with qualities that brings bondage. The realisation that a person is none of these see them 'free'

The world and all its fascination hide the reality. But this 'Reality' disappear when the person is 'realised' or awakened.

That is why the sages called this life a ' Dream'. In a dream, do we not perceive without eyes, hear without ears, speak without a mouth enjoy, suffer without a body? Further do we not doubt, question, judge and answer in a dream? Similarly life is a dream. And death is like a slumber. So said the sages.


Hindu Saints and the Bakthi Cult - 8 Vaishnava Saints
There are about 12 Vaishnava Saints who are referred to as Aalvars. They are: (1) Poihaiyar, (2) Poothathar, (3) Peyar, (4) Thirumalisaiyar, (5) Kulasekara Perumal, (6) Vittusithar, (7) Kothai Nachchiyar, (8) Thondaradi Podiyar, (9) Thirupanar, (10) Thirumangai Mannar, (11) Sadagopar, and (12) Madurakavi.

The subcontinent at that era boasted of seven leading cities, namely (1) Ayodya, (2) Madurai, (3) Mayay, (4) Kasi, (5) Kanchi, (6) Avanthigai, and (7) Dwarakay. Of these Kanchi was an exceptionally beautiful and well developed city.

There were Siva temples and Vaishnava temples in Kanchi. Among the Vaishnava temples was a holy shrine called Thiruvaha pond.

The Vaishnava saint Poothathar also manifested himself in a flower called Kurukuththi flower. He grew up to be a highly learned persons, but above all he renounced worldly life and spent all his time on meditating on Lord Vishnu. He sings that his one purpose in life was to serve God.

Peyar was another Vaishnava saint who is said to have manifested himself in a blue lotus that was found in a well near a Vishnu temple. Like the former two Vaishnava saints Peyar too was well versed in studies. His heart was full of devotion for Lord Vishnu. He would think of Lord Vishnu and shed tears of deep devotion. He was crazy over Lord Vishnu. So he called himself Pitha (lunatic) and Peya (fool). He would sing the praise of Lord Vishnu and dance in ecstasy.

It so happened, the three saints went each one on his own to a sacred place called Thirukoviloor. At dusk, tired out after singing and dancing, Poihaiyar went to a pilgrim's rest and slept in a narrow corridor. Poothathar followed next. He also came to the same place and requested for a little space for him to rest. For which Poihaiyar said, "Swami, in this place only one can sleep, but two can sit. Let us sit." So both of them sat down. The third saint Peyar also entered the resting place and begged for a little space.

Poihaiyar said, "Swami, one can sleep, two can sit, if there are three they can stand." So the three of them stood in that little space. They got to know each other and were pleased to note they were all ardent devotees of Lord Vishnu. Just then by the will of Lord Vishnu there was a heavy rain, and Lord Vishnu too unseen by them joined them making the place congested. The three saints didn't understand why it was so uncomfortable.

They felt a fourth person there. The saints with their ghana tried to find out the reason. To their great joy and happiness they saw before them Lord Vishnu in all his glory. They forgot themselves and sang songs in praise of Lord Vishnu. Their joy was boundless. In their ecstatic state they kept singing and posey gushed out like an unceasing cascade. Each one sang 100 songs. These songs are referred to as Pasarams sung on Lord Vishnu.

Thirumangai Mannar
As the name suggests the fourth of the Vaishnava saints was a king. There was in Chola country a young couple called Allinadar and his wife Vallithiru. Allinadar was the commander of the Chola Army.

In due course a son was born to them. The parents named him Neelan. From the time he was five years old, Neelan's father took unto himself to educate him. He excelled in studies and also in the marshal arts. The king having heard of his powers got him down and made him chief of one of the army brigade.

There was at that time a pulavar - poet who had beaten all other poets in his talent for composing poems and was ready to challenge any other poet. Neelan with his deep knowledge of the Tamil language took up the challenge and by his beautiful poems defeated him.

The old poet denounced his title as the leading poet in favour of Neelan. The king too rewarded Neelan, for his poetic victory.

The Chola king was so taken up by Neelan's courage, and other abilities that he gave one of his states Alli Nadu to him and made him king. Neelan was of course a vassal to the Chola king.

Meanwhile a celestial nymph called "Sumankalai" was out with her friends around the Himalayas. At open place Sage Kapilar was teaching his disciples about Lord Vishnu. One of the disciples was of a freakish build that "Sumankalai" laughed at him. Sage Kapilar was annoyed and cursed her to be born a mortal and marry a man on earth. Sumankalai begged him to forgive her. The Sage replied, "Do not take this as a curse. A very good thing will happen by your being born on earth."

This beautiful woman with her celestial companions was bathing in a pond and see ing a beautiful blue lotus stopped to admire it. Her companions left Sumangalai who took the form of an infant and lay on the blue lotus. She was found by a physi cian who took her home to his wife. He thought it was a gift from God to him and his wife who were childless. They called her Kumudavalli as she was found on the Kumudam flower.

When she came of age, the parents wanted to get her settled. They expressed their desire to her. She replied, "Father I'll reveal the secret of my birth to you." She then proceeded to relate how she came to be on a flower. Kapilar had told her one Parakalan (who was no other than Nelson) would seek her hand in marriage. Then Kumudavalli should agree to marry on two conditions. One is that Parakala should become a Vishnu devotee and secondly daily he should feed a thousand Vishnu devotees. "He will himself come to you", said Kumudavalli.

While this was happening in the physicians household, people who heard of this young maiden have told Parakalar about her beauty and sweet nature and suggested he should marry her. And Parakalar set out with his retinue to the physician's house.

As he headed the mansion of the physician, he saw the beautiful damsel in the balcony and concluded she be the woman he had come for. Kumadavalli too saw his and decided no other but Parakalar would have such a personality. Parakalar was received courteously by the physician and his wife. He was introduced to Kumudavalli and the latter laid down the conditions for marriage. The young king agreed to the conditions and the marriage took place.

After a few days Parakalar went with his wife to Alli Nadu. The king kept his word. He became a Vishnu devotee and fed a thousand minstrels who sang the praise of Lord Vishnu.

While he was busy with this duty spending all the money in the coffers to feed the minstrels he forget to send his bondage tax to the Chola king. The king sent messengers wit an order. Parakalar chased them away. The Chola King sent an army. Parakalar defeated them.

Finally the king himself came with the army. At the battle field Parakalar fought them valiantly, and came to face the king. The king asked him, "Is this the way you show your gratitude to me who helped you and made you a king of one of my states." To which Parakalar replied, "I believed as I should in a battle field. Hereafter I'll not fight" and allowed himself to be taken prisoner. In the prison, Parakalar prayed to Lord Vishnu to help him. Lord Vishnu appeared in his dream and told his there was enough wealth at a place called Thirukachchi. Take it and pay your dues."

Parakalar told the Minister who came to collect the payment, about the dream. On hearing about it the king ordered him to be taken under guard to that spot. When they went there and searched there was no treasure. Parakalar was heart broken.

That night the compassionate Lord Vishnu appeared and told him the treasure was at a certain place on the banks of a river called Vegavathy. The next day the Minister and his retinue searched the place and found gold, gems and many articles of value. When the king was given the gold and gems, he was speechless. He knew that Parakalar had the grace of Lord Vishnu. He got him down and apological for keeping him in prison and returned all the wealth to him, and sent him back with his minister and guards to Alli Nadu.

In the meantime, Kumudavalli and her parents and the subjects of Alli Nadu were sad and unhappy and waited for tidings of Parakalar. When he returned in glory, there was general celebration. The young couple was reunited.

Now, he was back to his duty of feeding the devotees and soon the coffers were empty. He consulted his minister and told them the only way to got wealth to feed the devotees was to waylay rich travellers and rob them. The ministers agreed.

Lord Vishnu seeing his great devotion to feed His devotees, took the form of a traveller and with his consort Lakshmi dressed in all fineries and jewels and came along the path where the king and ministers were hiding. The couple and their retinue were stopped by the king and the ministers who demanded the travellers to give all the money and jewels in their possession. Then he noticed that the bridegroom had a ring. He asked for it, and was told he couldn't take it out. Parakalar broke it wit his teeth and took it.

Parakalar ordered the jewels and money to be bundled and taken to the Palace. None of the ministers could lift the burden. Even Parakalar could not lift the bundle. He was annoyed and accused the traveller of having cast a spell and demanded that he be told of the mantra (charm).

Lord Vishnu in the guise of the young bridegroom called him and secretly chanted the mantra in his ear alone. Then the travellers all disappeared. The young king was overwhelmed that Lord Vishnu Himself had intervened in his life and sang ten songs or Pasurams then and there.

This was the turning point in his life. He gave the kingdom over to a responsible person and with his wife left to visit Vishnu shrines in the North. Like the Saiva Saints, he too sang of the glory of God.

In one of his travels to holy shrines, he had the fourteen of meeting the young boy saint, Thirugnanasombandar. They mutually appreciated each other's posey and became good friends.

Thus Thirumangai Mannar or Neelan o Parakalar as he was called later, renounced the material world and sought great bliss in the spiritual realm. He was in constant communion with Lord Vishnu and felt His presence wherever he went.

That was the true nature of saints - both Saiva and Vaishnava saints who led the people into the Bakthi Cult, into leading a noble righteous living.

In Bhagavatgita Lord Wishnu says, "If you are thus over in communion with me in mind, you will overcome every obstacle."

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